Novena to Saint John of the Cross
Beginning Prayer to be said each day:
O glorious St. John of the Cross, through a pure desire of being like Jesus crucified, you longed for nothing so eagerly as to suffer, to be despised, and to be made little of by all; and your thirst after sufferings was so burning that your noble heart rejoiced in the midst of the cruelest torments and afflictions.
Grant, I beseech you, O dear Saint, by the glory which your many sufferings have gained for you, to intercede for me and obtain from God for me a love of suffering, together with strength and grace to bear with firmness of mind all the trials and adversities which are the sure means to the happy attainment of all that awaits me in heaven.
Dear Saint, from your most happy place in glory, hear, I beseech you, my prayers, so that after your example, full of love for the cross I may deserve to be your companion in glory. Amen.
Second Day: Spirit of Penitence
Glorious St. John of the Cross, you preserved to death in unspotted
brilliancy the radiant whiteness of your baptismal innocence, while
nevertheless practicing the most cruel and persevering penance. In honor
and imitation of this crucifying love, I entreat you that I may share your
mortified and penitential life so that, even in this world, I may receive
the grace to atone for my many sins, purify my soul, and acquire merit, that
I may also enjoy heaven’s glory with you. Obtain for me also the special
grace I ask through your intercession during this novena, if it be for the
glory of God and for my salvation (make request).
Three Our Fathers and three Hail Marys.
. . .
Saint Edith Stein on the Feast of Saint John of the Cross (Source)
When someone desires to suffer, it is not merely a pious reminder of the suffering of the Lord. Voluntary expiatory suffering is what truly and really unites one to the Lord intimately. When it arises, it comes from an already existing relationship with Christ. For, by nature, a person flees from suffering. And the mania for suffering caused by a perverse lust for pain differs completely from the desire to suffer in expiation. Such lust is not a spiritual striving, but a sensory longing, no better than other sensory desires, in fact worse, because it is contrary to nature.
Only someone whose spiritual eyes have been opened to the supernatural correlations of worldly events can desire suffering in expiation, and this is only possible for people in whom the spirit of Christ dwells, who as members are given life by the Head, receive his power, his meaning, and his direction. Conversely, works of expiation bind one closer to Christ, as every community that works together on one task becomes more and more closely knit and as the limbs of a body, working together organically, continually become more strongly one.
But because being one with Christ is our sanctity, and progressively becoming one with him our happiness on earth, the love of the cross in no way contradicts being a joyful child of God. Helping Christ carry his cross fills one with a strong and pure joy, and those who may and can do so, the builders of God’s kingdom, are the most authentic children of God. And so those who have a predilection for the way of the cross by no means deny that Good Friday is past and that the work of salvation has been accomplished.
Only those who are saved, only children of grace, can in fact be bearers of Christ’s cross. Only in union with the divine Head does human suffering take on expiatory power. To suffer and to be happy although suffering, to have one’s feet on the earth, to walk on the dirty and rough paths of this earth and yet to be enthroned with Christ at the Father’s right hand, to laugh and cry with the children of this world and ceaselessly to sing the praises of God with the choirs of angels this is the life of the Christian until the morning of eternity breaks forth.